I wrote this post back in 2014 on my personal blog, but since Tom and I are headed to a marriage retreat, I thought it would be fun to bring back here! Our marriage is definitely not perfect, but if we erase the stigma that marriages have to be “perfect” to be happy, then our marriage actually does feel perfect. Perfectly imperfect, relying on each others strength, and doing our best to keep it so much fun!<3 So, here is the post called, “Marriage is Awesome.”
The other day, I wrote on one of my friend’s facebook statuses to congratulate him on his engagement. We dated in high school, so I wanted to say something sincere, but appropriate. What I came up with was: “Congrats!! So happy for you. Marriage is awesome.”
As I thought on that: “Marriage is awesome,” I thought, yes! Marriage IS awesome! But, it is not to be confused with “Marriage is easy.”
For some, I’m sure marriage does come “easy!” Some people are just built to put someone else’s needs above theirs and be pliable and are naturally willing to adjust expectations and forgive quickly disappointments with each other. I love that! And I wish that were me, but marriage is not necessarily “easy” for someone who is head strong, determined, and vocal. In our case, there are two of those in the relationship. That’s one of the things I love MOST about my husband, and about us as a couple, but it is also one of the things that has caused us our share of arguments and frustration. While there are couples who are like the first scenario I said, I’m willing to gamble that the majority of people are not equipped with all of those characteristics when it comes to marriage. And even if they are naturally like that, sometimes it is stifled and isn’t fully brought to the table in marriage.
Our first year of marriage was…awesome! Or, I should say, many many parts of it were! We had amazing, FUN, incredible times–even the majority of the time! But I can say that there were also a few awful moments that seemed more like lifetimes! Moments that we both were wrong, moments that I ran away from conversations and locked myself in my car or the bathroom crying. There were many hurt feelings because we weren’t always careful with our words. There were misunderstandings because we were both so sensitive and critical of one another. There was jealousy, there was anger, slammed doors, and there were raging hormones [I was pregnant. Need I say more?] 😉 There were the highest of HIGHS, and the lowest of lows. BUT, I can honestly say: I would NOT take any of it back for anything. Even though that wasn’t the ideal way that our story would go that first year, [or how anyone would picture it,] it helped us GROW. [Seriously! It’s weird how that works!] We went to see a couple of marriage counselors to try it out, and while I can’t say I really think it helped us, what did help was that we saw each other’s effort. We saw that we both wanted to make it work because there was no denying that we were made for each other. When we saw that effort, something magical happened: We both started taking each other’s feelings into consideration. We were able to look at the situation from the other’s point of view, and we started to make compromises. Really.
When friends of mine share in an honest moment that their first year of marriage, [or maybe second, if the first was smooth sailing,] wasn’t what they had expected or they feel like they have made a mistake by marrying this person, or that they don’t see it working out…I want to give them a giant, understanding hug, and then proceed to grab them by the shoulders, look at them in the eyes and say: “It’s OKAY. You are allowed to feel this way. Bringing two different people together and combining your completely separate lives and personalities is NOT easy, nor is it supposed to be easy, nor would the majority of the population SAY it is easy. And you are not alone. And…even though now you feel like you want to cry. Or kill something, if you start making an effort. Pray. A lot. And see that person for the one you fell in love with, I promise things can change. Don’t give up. It gets easier.”
*Of course there are extenuating circumstances where this may not apply, but I believe in many and most situations, where two good people are just struggling coming together, things can work. Things can change. But you have to let them change. We must allow each other to change!*
I don’t believe that Heavenly Father intended marriage to be a cruel joke…you fall in so much love with someone that it almost hurts and you are bursting with joy and can’t wait to marry them, and once you make those covenants then you are supposed to be completely miserable forever!?? No. NO. That is NOT how it works. We are meant to be eternally happy together!! But, without going through the refiner’s fire, you can’t truly learn how to be a diamond partner.
While I can’t say that marriage is easy, I can say that marriage gets easier. You start to understand each other, to know which buttons can be pushed and those that you need to steer clear of. You start to understand more the other’s love language and start showing them your love in a way they can understand. You start to understand better their communication style and know when they say something what they are really trying to say. You see their heart. You start to get less defensive and more compassionate. It comes with time. For us. Not for everyone-I’m sure there are many people who have it figured out right from the get-go, but for us, there was a learning curve. Don’t be mistaken, we were immediate best friends and have been madly in love with each other since probably near around the first time we met, but sometimes LOVE takes WORK. And if two people are both willing to make it work; it can. Even with those things learned, is it perfect or easy now? No, there are still occasional disagreements or annoyances that we deal with, but it is a 180 degree turn in a positive direction. And it started with us, individually. We each had to be willing to change and see when we were wrong or being stubborn or prideful!
Our days now are not filled with fights and harsh criticism of each other; they are filled with love [mostly,] and they are now how I would have expected it to be that first year. [Not that every day was filled with fights and grudges, but man, sometimes it sure felt like it. And it was emotionally and physically exhausting.] I know without those challenges, though, it couldn’t be quite like this, how it is now! We needed to learn those lessons, and looking back, I’m glad we learned a lot of them sooner, rather than later. You can’t learn something if it is easy and you are coasting by.
I firmly believe that we are here to learn, and marriage is NO exception. Marriage is work.
But: Marriage is awesome.